There's a lot of right-wing angst out there about the new American dictatorship, Venezuela.
A congress wholly loyal to President Hugo Chavez approved a law Wednesday granting him authority to enact sweeping measures by decree.Let's get this straight: Chavez was given this authority by a democratically elected Congress, representatives of the people, right? And it was all done Constitutionally, right?
Chavez, who is beginning a fresh six-year term, says the legislation will be the start of a new era of "maximum revolution'' during which he will consolidate Venezuela's transformation into a socialist society. His critics are calling it a radical lurch toward authoritarianism by a leader with unchecked power.
But George W. Bush has consistently and frequently ignored laws passed by the US Constitution by issuing "signing statements" that nullify the legislation he is ostensibly signing into law, and in some cases violate the US Constitution. One signing statement asserted the right of Executive Branch agencies to read your mail without a warrant. Another, issued on the McCain anti-torture legislation, said, essentially: "Torture is wrong and we won't do it; except when WE think we ought to."
Bush has consistently overreached Presidential power in the execution of the Iraq war, calling himself "the decider" amd ignoring Congress's Constitutional authority of oversight and approval.
And last August 17th, Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that George W. Bush had both violated the Constitution and broken the law:
The president, she wrote, had “undisputedly violated” not only the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, but also statutory law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
But that must be okay, because, of course, Bush is just trying to protect the people, right? It's not business he's concerned with, right? Because if he were more concerned with business than with the people of the United States, we might be upset, right? So what is Chavez trying to do?
The law also allows Chavez to dictate unspecified measures to transform state institutions; reform banking, tax, insurance and financial regulations; decide on security and defense matters such as gun regulations and military organization; and "adapt'' legislation to ensure "the equal distribution of wealth'' as part of a new "social and economic model.''
Chavez plans to reorganize regional territories and carry out reforms aimed at bringing "power to the people'' through thousands of newly formed Communal Councils, in which Venezuelans will have a say on spending an increasing flow of state money on neighborhood projects from public housing to road repaving.
Chavez's opponents, however, argue the law dangerously concentrates power in the hands of single man.
Ironically, in the US, those Chavez opponents are, more frequently than not, supporters of the Bush administration -- our new Imperial Presidency -- people like Howie who think, as Richard Milhous Nixon did, that "when the President does it, it's legal."
Is that where greater power in the Executive Branch is bringing the American people? It doesn't appear so. Last week, Bush signed an executive order that takes decision-making authority in US Government regulatory agencies (e.g., The Environmental Protection Agency, The Occupational Safety and Health Administation, etc., agencies that act as "watchdogs" for corporate abuse) away from experts in the field and gives it to political cronies. The executive order amounts to the rolling back of legislation (The Clean Air Act, The Occupational Safety and Health Act, etc.) without any Congressional consent. The laws are still there; we just won't enforce them. In fact, we'll ignore them entirely. Oh, and we'll accept your tax dollars as our salary. This is not consumer protection, worker protection, or public protection. It is corporate protection:
Chavez supporters said the law will help align the government and economy for a swift move toward a more egalitarian society.
Industry and business groups that have made huge donations to the GOP welcomed President Bush's executive order.So who's the "dictator?"